It's inevitable. Some day I will have a perfect baby and some one out there will mock them. Tell them that they don't matter. Make fun of their looks and their imagination and the way that they dance to their own tune. As much as I would like to shake this person and yell and scream and cry, I know that I cannot. I cannot expect everyone to cherish my little ball of energy and flowing creativity. I want to raise my children to stand out, to be themselves, and that makes some very uncomfortable. Some day I may have a beautiful little girl, and some day someone out there may make them second guess themselves. They may call them a word that travels all the way to their core and makes them want to hide away in a shell. When they run into my arms I will envelope them in my chest and tell them that fear breeds anger, and that sometimes when people are hurting, they try as hard as they can to hurt others. I will tell her that the most powerful thing in this world is love, and loving yourself is the most important thing one can ever do to change the world. If you want to change the world, love yourself. Because when you love yourself, it makes the world light up and your heart laugh and you can't help but love and appreciate others. You will want them to love themselves, too.
When she looks up at me, wide eyed with lashes soaked with tears, lashes that go on for miles like her daddy's, I will be completely honest. When she asks me Mama, am I pretty? Because a boy told me today that I'm fat. Am I? I will tell her the truth: that she is beautiful and that when people hurt they want others to hurt. When she says Mama, I think I will look great once I lose 10 pounds. If I just lose a little bit more weight, then I will be able to love myself. I will remind her how much I have wanted her, my entire life. How much beauty I see when I look at her, inside and out. That she is more to me than a number on the scale, and that a number can never define her worth as a person.
I will tell her about my very first boyfriend. I was in middle school and he was so much more popular than I was. He reminded me of this on a daily basis, so as not to forget. When his friends would talk about me, he would remind me that they didn't really know me. They wouldn't love me if they did, because he was the only person who ever could. When we were alone, I would recall how he would tell me how I could afford to lose a few pounds. I would tell her that one week I survived on saltines alone, because that's how much his words hurt. Why did you believe that, mama? she will ask. And I will tell her that sometimes, when you are hurting and you forget that there are so many people out there who love you and appreciate you and think your special, sometimes when you forget about these people, it's harder to stand up for yourself and speak up and really cherish yourself. Sometimes you start to believe what they're saying, and their voice becomes the loudest voice in your head. And you hear it every time you look into the mirror or get into a bathing suit or take a picture. That's when you need to remember. Remember the people in your life who love you and cherish you and think you're really something special. Because you are, I've wanted you for my entire life.
If she comes to me and says, Mama, I can't eat that cookie. I need to lose a little more weight and then, then I will love myself. I will tell her about the night before I married her daddy, when a boy called my best friend fat. I will remember how she stopped dead in her tracks, all confidence stripped away from her being, and how I held her in my arms as she cried. I will never forget how her face changed as those words poured out of his mouth. He was trying to hurt her. And he did. I will tell her that sometimes, people are mean. Sometimes, people want to hurt eachother, and the easiest way to do that is through our words. That's why it is so very important that you always remember that your words will impact someone. Just as that boy hurt you, you are capable of hurting someone else. It is so very important that you remember to build others up with your words, even when they are trying to pull you down.
If she is still not convinced, I will tell her about how much food haunted me as a young adult. I will tell her that for several years I lied about what I was doing in the bathroom, because I was too ashamed to tell others. Because somehow, I thought I would be judged because I couldn't lose the weight on my own. The weight that was holding me back from really loving myself. I will tell her how it felt to look at myself in the mirror and poke and prod at every imaginable flaw. I will tell her that there was a time when I couldn't stand to be around myself because I just knew that my friends were calling me fat when I wasn't looking. I will tell her that life is short and beautiful and a great adventure - and that there is simply not enough time in all of the universe to spend even a moment second guessing yourself. Because, I will tell her, she is the most beautiful being and I have wanted her my entire life.
And I will tell her that it is our job as women to build eachother up. Because in a world where our voices are not always loud enough to be heard, and our paychecks not always as large, and our bodies never perfect... I will tell her that this is the most important thing: to love youself and to love others. To remember how it felt when a person looked in your direction and said you. are. fat. To remember how it felt to look into the mirror and shift your body from side to side, poking it in disgust. To remember how it felt. I will tell her that her words have the power to help other women love themselves.
Because there is no time to waste on silly negativity and harsh words. Life is not long enough to spend time bogged down, in a constant battle with yourself. I will remind her that you come into the world alone and you leave it alone - your body is your vehicle that gets you from one place to the next, and it is perfect in every. single. way. Never forget where you came from and where you are going. Never forget that you are important and special and that I have always, always, always wanted you. You are worth loving. You have the freedom and the capabilities to be so much more than just a number on a scale. And any guy who cannot see that, any one of them - they can go to hell.
Because I will be her example. I will show her that I am strong and I am passionate and I am not finished fighting. I will not give up and I will not let another person make me second guess myself. I will tell her that even though all of this has happened, all of these people and words and feelings that could have very well helped me to end it all -- these are the things that have made me stronger and helped me grow and to appreciate who I am and what I have to offer this universe. I will tell her that once you are able to embrace yourself, then you can truly live. Because when you love yourself, you can recognize that the boy calling you fat has so much more going on in his mind than the words that are leaving his lips. You can remind yourself that when people hurt, they sometimes hurt others. You can embrace the reality that not everyone is going to like you, but sometimes all that matters is that you like yourself.